The almost unknown label Step One from Uppsala released in 1992 the first full-length of a very interesting band. Furbowl was born a few years after Joahn Axelsson left Carnage (he was on “The Day Man Lost”). Far from the grindcore sonorities of early Carnage, Liiva composed with Furbowl one of the most interesting and underrated albums of the entire old Swedish Death Metal movement. The guitar sound is the one we know: pure “Pieces”/”Left Hand Path” mush, down tuned , loose and obscure. Composition-wise, however, Furbowl never pointed much towards aggression alone (thanks god we had Grave for that!), even if some songs have actually a good number of killer riffs (“Sharkheaven” for one). The songs are really well thought, and apart from some attempts at trying to experiment beyond their abilities (the Typo’0’Negative vocals on “Razorblades” are definitely useless), you get here a real brilliant chunk of elaborate Swedish Death, with excellent hateful vocals, disturbing harmonies, and a dose of heavy R’n’R groove far beyond its time. It has to be noted that this band was made up of only two members – Liiva was doing all vocals, bass and guitar, while Max Thornell was responsible of percussions and a bunch of extremely well arranged keyboards. Sometimes the music becomes somewhat symphonic, but in a Pan-Thy-Monium / Master’s Hammer way, not mellow – the sick element is always present. Furbowl was a band able to blend an excellent selection of aggressive riffs, rocking and rolling grooves and the classical Swedish evocative melodies. I also liked the lyrics, introspective and choked with depression and anger. Michael Amott from Carcass was guest for two solos on this album, and was also the one who produced the Cd. Could be fun to know that the band changed name to Devourment, for a while…
Naming the band after a Babylonian god and talking about blasphemy of the Judeo/Christian religion might sound a bit weird, but after all that’s the Morbid Angel way. The first thing that kicks ass in this album is the killer cover art by no one else than Dani Vala, guitarist and singer of the band I reviewed yesterday, Obscurity. Why this guy didn’t do more of these splendid works is beyond me. This painting is really “evil”, and grotesque.
Several of the best bands that turned into pure Black Metal in the nineties have common roots in the Death Metal scene (not that I think there is so much difference between the genres after all anyway). Marduk‘s first album “Dark Endless” has all the great elements of the classic Swedish Death Metal sound. Dan Swano did a good job at fiding the right sound for this recording – the obese trademark crushing sound of the Swedish axe permeates all songs, with a good balance of mid tempo, Bolt Thrower reminiscent riffs, hints of melodies in the vein of old Crematory, and even a sporadic use of keyboards a la Thou Shalt Suffer towards the end. While the album closes with an epic, elaborate and evocative guitarwork, the first songs, while generally faster, have their good share of sluggish, almost symphonic bridges. All of this has been obviously cooked with the classic Swedish receipt of sickness – none of this sounds mellow. My only regret is the vocals are a bit too raspy and high. I guess how killer this would have sounded with a real singer like Rogga of Merciless or a young Matti Karki. The main theme on this album could be misanthropy and obscurity, elements that were lost with time. I admit I like this stuff, but also their newer albums. This might not be an album that can be credited as legendary in the Death Metal world, but it’s a good compromise of Swedish Death Metal, crushing heaviness, misanthropy and a pinch of classic Scandinavian taste for dark melodies.
My copy, on No Fashion, has no lyrics on it, but I guess the new version has a better booklet. For sure the titles themselves follow the music perfectly: they are all about departure, funerals, damnation…
Scarlet records is not my favorite label of all time. Well actually I couldn’t tell on top of my head one band one in their roster which I like at all. But the man behind the label deserves some respect for his solid backgroud in extreme metal since at least the late eighties, and part of this background is finally showing on this jewel – an anthology of Obscurity recordings from 85 to 87 – and 1992. Considering the time when these songs were written, it’s quite clear that this was one of the very first Swedish Death Metal bands of all time (as by the way Daniel Ekeroth confirms on his book on the subject). The Cd is however not pure gold from start to finish to be honest. The two tracks recorded in 1992 are among the most boring examples of warped Venom inspired music I can think of, but that is probably Jorgen Lindhe starting to write riffs that whould stem into is subsequent (atrocious) band Flegma. What makes the Cd so impossible to miss, though, are the two demos that To The Death records also released on 7″ slightly before. If you can, you should get those, but if you prefer the Cd format (shame on you), this Cd has it all. The first demo is high quality Speed Core/Thrash-Metal heavily into Celtic Frost/Hellhammer on speed, with patterns that remind me a bit of a slower Suicidal Tendencies/Cryptic Slaughter. The Death Metal seed is not impossibly heavy on these tracks – but some real neat ideas appear here as well. But the real shit is the second demo, which also opens the Cd like a gate to Hela’s domain. Four tracks of blistering killer Death Metal which cannot but remind of early Merciless (which btw came a bit later) in pure ferocity. Also killer acts like Imperator or Sadus can be taken into account, the vocals are twisted, the guitar shords pure Thrash Metal in your face crunch. This shit alone would be worth a full fucking 9-score vote. Great riffing, hammering drum blasting, energy-ripping vocals. I cannot tell how much I love this hybrid form of early Death Metal. The last song “Demented” is a real surge of crushing Metal riffs, with a delightful Slayerish solo in the middle. The whole Cd is worth just for these 4 tracks. Monster band. Not standard Swedish Death with super tuned down guitars, but great headbanging fun!
While the demos are amazing music to hear, the Cd itself is not done really well (we have high standards today thanks to Nuclear War Now!), there are no liner notes, the pictures are just 3 or 4, and there are no flyers, interviews, whatever. The cover art is too dark and grainy, the logo disappears in the shadow of the statue, and it is just too damn glossy. Only good thing is at least there are all the lyrics inside. Better than nothing. Well better than what Xtreem is doing with anthologies at least.
I have realized that for the most part, I am so slow at writing reviews becouse most of the albums I have in queue are either terribly ordinary – or worse. Of course having a fanzine has its own share of fun, but also some responsabilities. I cannot just thrash all the mediocre stuff and review only the coolest. But yet I decided to give it a small turn. When I am not in a mood for new music, I’ll just review some old item from the past. After all there are plenty of forums and webzines around if you need informations on a recently released album. Of course I will still do my hoeworks and give a shot at all the promo material I have, but since there are so many good releases and bands around today – why not listening to them instead of *insert name of a random east-european grindcore band with Czech name here*.
Let’s face it, the “old school Death Metal” trend is just that, a trend. But a trend that is giving birth to a lot of extremely cool bands, like the new Tribulation, Degial, Vomination, Crucifire etc. Just like the Sarcofago/Hellhammer trend of 6-7 years ago brought us Goat Semen, Rites of thy Degringolade or Levifer. These are trends I support eh eh.
Back on us, more old school shit to follow, and at last some interviews as well. Let’s give this fanzine a REAL face.
Not many good bands ever spun from Denmark that I can remember. Apart from my first Metal band ever Mercyful Fate and some 80’s stuff like Artillery, Samhain and Desexult, on top of my head I can only name the first Invocator, the Autopsy worshipping Corpse Vomit, early Illdisposed, late war Metal Exmortem, the first brutal Infernal Torment full-length, the 2 egregious while absolutely symphonic Autumn Leaves albums, and maybe a bunch of other minor names that barely escaped the demo bounds (I did some shopping in Copenaghen in 1994 looking for demos). Let’s put Sadomator/Sadogoat as well, and even Denial Of God if you wish (although I have not much sympathy for this band). But that’s really it. Yesterday while sweeping the floor in my apartment, I put on this nice Cd from 1992. If my memory doesn’t fail me, this was one of the very first releases by Progress. I already knew the label when it was named Regress, since they had this really nice fanzine that covered both music and tattoos. The label subsequenttly folded in the mildly impressive Die Hard.
I remember Maceration was not an amazingly original band (and the logo was quite anonymous), but in a time of sadness like the one we’re living in , I admit I enjoyed listening to it so much I spinned it four times. Dan Swano used to sing on this album under false name and admittedly, these are the best growls I have heard from him among his countless (mostly terrible) projects. The music itself is definitely old school, but not incredibly dark or eerie. It reminds me mostly of Loudblast, Morgoth and Asphyx, with distinct structures and even some sparkles of Bolt Thrower-ish melodies (so to speak). While mostly midtempo, the album gets faster towards the end (probably older songs). While no masterpiece, I reccomend this album to those who already have the essential discography of the aforementioned bands. It usually goes for very cheap in 2nd hand bins, possibly 5 euros or less.
I think we all would agree if I dare to say that John McEntee has listened to a LOT of Autopsy before writing “Primordial Domination”, which is fine by me since it was the best band ever in the Death Metal universe. I still write New York is the base for this band although they have moved to Cleveland several years ago – and then NJ or Johnstown or Grove City, I lost track there are three different addresses here. The asset is the same that gave us the previous masterpieces of old School Metal of Death: John at the guitar and Kyle on drums plus random bassist (this time the big guy called Joe Lombard which also writes the majority of lyrics) – and their adopted fifth member the producer Bill Korecky. This is not the first Incantation album with John on vocals but it’s the first one I manage to listen and dissect carefully. I haven’t really listened much to “Decimate Christendom” or the horribly looking “Blasphemy”. I can surely say the vocals are absolutely okay, not as deep as Pillard’s or Rhamer’s but more in the vein of Corchado, still more than okay in the studios even if not impossibly dark (but they are very weak on stage). Everything however really falls in the background in importance when this guy works his magic on the guitar. He’s the best motherfucking guitar player around when it comes to spewing Death Metal anthems. I have the obsessive malignant vibes of “Mortal Throne of Nazarene” and “Diabolical Summoning” still chilling my skin every time I think about those albums, even if it’s probably over one year I haven’t listened to them. I have to say however that while theoretically perfect, and chock full of killer riffs and spells of unholiness, not to mention Autopsy worshiping moments, this album is not as majestic and eerie as it could be. It’s a bit like when “Infernal Storm” came out, an album which I cannot say I dislike, but I cannot say I love either. It’s just so difficult to challenge those two albums I mentioned before that things sometimes just don’t manage to reach the same level of intensity. I love this album anyway, but I cannot define it a masterpiece. All the good Incantation elements are present here, and not only in the line up: unholy growls and pure Death Metal riffs with that minimal dose of evil doom, you cannot really make a mistake when it comes to Incantation. Yet I will still rotate the first three albums in my Cd player. Listenable is doing a good thing with packaging – the artwork is by the excellent Jacek Wisniewski (I still prefer Miran Kim, tho) and there is a cool DVD extra in the case with a show from France. It’s appalling to hear how terrible John’s vocals sound live, they really lack any punch… too bad becouse the picture is killer.
You might have noticed that updates have not been regular lately. That’s because I have been super-busy with the other half of Nuclear Abominations: the label.
Sadly I have to announce that the Nuclear Death demos collection has slipped forward once again in the time table. I am making sure things are made the best way possible for this release so dear to me and I relied on the best artist for the task of putting together all the elements for the layout. I haven’t seen any sketches yet but I quite sure things will be memorabl. He has been busy with jobs like Deathspell Omega so if you want a preview of the style, have a look at those works. So far only the Cd has been discussed but the vinyl version will be released not much later.
So while I am awaiting for a bunch of other releases to be prepared I decided to give the first kick myself. As I am writing, all the layouts and music files are ready at the pressing plant for the first new Nuclear Abominations release. I did it all myself so let’s cross fingers. It won’t be the last one however, I promise. Before saying who the artist on the new 7″ is I want to have the real thing in my hands however, I had too many bad experiences in the past so no proclaims before the ball is rolling in my hands. As soon as I can I will post all infos, including shipping costs etc. Some trades might be possible but only against vinyl. Last word. Believe me this Ep is going to be a real nice cut of blasphemy…
Talking about Nuclear Abominations release ideas which have been promptly taken by other labels, Necroharmonic has just released a re-release of the Singles Collections by Gut, originally on Deliria. Haven’t seen the package but the cover doesn’t look particularly good. Probably my idea of a 3Cd discography would have been somewhat better. Anyway that idea made sense only so far as the band was disbanded, it doesn’t really make sense to make a anthology of an active one (not to mention the last stuff is quite “controversial”).